General information about Sitges

Sitges has always been a place that has captivated artists, tourists and, in general, visitors from all around the world. For many, the secret lies in its light and almost 300 sunny days a year, as confirmed by the painters, sculptors and writers who made this town their home during the late 19th century.

The fact is that nature has indeed been extremely generous to us and Sitges is also privileged to be located on the Mediterranean coast at the very foot of the Garraf Massif. Culturally speaking, its legacy is extraordinary; here art is alive and traditions are upheld with a modern outlook. Sitges has preserved important medieval references as well as others from the old fishing and farming town it once was, offering visitors a valuable architectural heritage. Moreover, the town enjoys a very cosmopolitan character thanks to its population’s heterogeneity, with residents of more than 70 different nationalities living together side by side.

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A bit of History

The first Sitgetans

The name Sitges comes from “Sitja”, a pre-Roman word that means “deep hole or silo”. Even before the Neolithic period, the first Sitgetans lived in the area known as the “cave point” (past the Terramar golf course) and the La Punta Hill, where the church and Town Hall are today. Recently discovered archeological remains show the existence of an Iberian settlement in the 4th-3rd century B.C. Modern studies confirm that there were two small populated areas in Sitges back in the 1st century. One around La Punta hill and another surrounding the Vinyet chapel. Along with Roman OlèrdolaSitges’ port was used to trade products from the Penedès region and other places from the Roman Mediterranean.

Medieval Sitges 

The castle, situated up on the La Punta hill and today the Town Hall that was built over the foundations of the ancient castle in 1889, was first owned by the Seu de Barcelona (the Catholic Church) that ceded it in fief to Count Mir Geribert (1041). In the 12th century, Sitges was under the castlania (the privilege of castle-guard) of the Sitges’, a family that adopted the village’s toponym as their last name. The Sitges family is documented from the year 1116 until 1308. The last family member, Agnès de Sitges, sold her castlania rights to Bernat de Fonollar who was its owner from 1306 to 1326. After the death of his second wife, Blanca of d’Abella, by testamentary decision Sitges was handed over to the Pia Almoina (Canon’s House) until 1814. Bernat de Fonollar was a knight directly related to court of King James II. The tombs of both this nobleman and his wife are in the Sant Bartomeu and Santa Tecla church, on the left-hand side as you enter. During these centuries, the lives of Sitgetans were organized around organized around the Baluard headland, where the parish church, hospital and cemetery were, as well as a small group of houses, all surrounded by a first enclosure and connected to the rest of the village by a bridge over Major or Main Street. The rest of the village consisted of Nou, Tacó and Carreta Streets that led down to the sea, and that were closed off with their respective gates, Aigua Street with another gate and Davallada Street. The presence of these gates shows that the entire village was surrounded by a second rampart. It is also known that there were 3 towers located at the Baluard (Bastion), behind the old hospital (today the Maricel Museum) and Bosc Street, possibly built in 1303. All 3 are depicted on the Sitges Coat of Arms.

Extract from the chapter written by Àngels Parés: La Vila de Sitges en Quatre Pinzellades (The Town of Sitges in Four Strokes) from the bookHistòria de Garraf (History of Garraf) by Rafael Mateos Ayza.